Body Shop Experts Share Key of Investing in Self with CV Tech Students

CV Tech instructor David Venard (far right) reviews student projects from his Auto Collision class with Collision Works of Yukon Human Resources Administrator Chad Butler (left) and shop manager Jason Mathies.

November 30, 2017

EL RENO – An Oklahoma-based business is expanding and is actively searching for its next generation of employees.

Jason Mathies, manager of Yukon’s Collision Works body shop, took a step in that direction on Tuesday while speaking to students enrolled in Canadian Valley Technology Center’s Auto Collision program.

He encouraged students to invest in themselves in order to thrive in the collision repair industry.

Collision Works abides by this principle. The company started in 1996 with a single Del City location. Sustained growth has resulted in 14 locations, including 10 in Oklahoma.

The newest shop is Yukon’s 22,000-square foot location opened last June near NW 10th Street and Cemetery Road.

“It still has the family feel,” Mathies said of the company, despite rapid expansion.

Collision Works officials plan to open four more facilities in 2018, including new repair shops in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Mathies told students that culture is a key contributor to Collision Works’ success. Each potential new hire is evaluated on a personal and professional level to ensure a good fit.

“We’re looking at the person first,” he said. “We want somebody that works hard, is smart, is excellent with people, has great communication skills and is trainable. Those are all important skills.”

The work environment also is important at Collision Works, he said.

“This industry is not so dirty and grungy anymore,” Mathies said. “Our shops are nice, well-ventilated facilities with dust extraction and state-of-the-art technology.”

Starting pay is between $30,000 and $45,000 per year, depending on the position, he said. Benefits include a 401k retirement plan, health insurance and life insurance.

Body technicians and painters often exceed $90,000 in annual pay with some technicians earning in excess of $100,000.

“A lot of jobs are very specialized in this industry,” Mathies said. “Plastic repair is huge, particularly with the insurance industry. More and more vehicles are composites. It’s good to know all aspects of collision repair.”

Mathies reminded students that bumpers are usually the first thing to be damaged in collisions. He said It would be easy to put on a new bumper, but it’s more cost effective for customers and insurance companies to instead have them repaired. That’s one reason why skilled technicians are important.

“Believe it or not, it’s challenging for the industry to find qualified technicians,” Mathies said.

That is part of the reason Collision Works wants to identify employees who fit within its culture.

“We’ll invest as much time as it takes if we see value in the employee, and the employee sees value in learning,” Mathies said.

The typical work week is 50 hours, sometimes more, he said. The shop is open weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mathies said Collision Works’ leadership is working to develop an internship program with CV Tech students.  Collision Works also plans to open a training facility in the Oklahoma City area in the near future.